Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In other news, today is PAYDAY! Finally! We have not done a great job with budgeting this month, and I'm glad to have a fresh start. Today is also exciting because we are taking full advantage of Tightwad Tuesday and going to see Fireproof (see below) tonight since it's matinee prices all day. I've heard from Justin's two sisters that it was really good, and Stump told Justin it's good, so we're definitely going. I wonder if it will make Justin want to be a fireman again?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Our plan is to go out again over the weekend with my dad, who is a contractor. We plan to have him look at things logistically and see about how much he thinks we would need to put into it to be livable. Here's the deal--it's listed at 160,000 but our REA thinks we could easily offer $140,000. Some of the other houses listed are at about $170,000 and would require NO work upon move-in (but they don't have near the amount of property). So, we have to weigh whether or not putting an additional $30,000 into the house would be feasible and worth it to us.
The second house we looked at today (the "Cross House" since there were crosses everywhere) would need NO work upon move in. All appliances are included, and they are all very nice. You can tell that this house was meticulously taken care of. It's 2 bed, 1 bath, and in a great neighborhood. There isn't much of a yard at all though. The only updates I'd do would be to repaint, and possibly adding a backsplash on the opposite side of the kitchen. This is one of the houses in the 170,000 range.
Over the weekend, we're also hoping to go look at a short sale that's on the same street as the house-house. It's in a little better shape, and there's a nice big yard. Oy vey. This is a heck of a lot of work.
P.S.--Sorry about the originally ridiculously small text! I did that entry on a computer other than my own, and it appeared HUGE on that computer!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Man, it has taken a LOOONNNGGG time of looking at Rate My Space to find possible house inspiration pictures. Everything I find is okay, but none of them really scream my name. Our color palate is dark brown, tan, blues, and greens. They are the palate because that's what we've already got, and also because that's what Justin and I tend to both agree on. Plus, those are really the only colors that I like with dark brown, and our couch is dark brown leather, so there you have it.
Justin has done a fantastic job talking with our real estate guy this weekend. We gave him a list of other houses we're interested in looking at--one is very similar to the house-house, but is a 2 bed/ 2 bath. Not ideal, but that would definitely be okay. The second house is a very interesting one...and I think the one that Justin and I are both most excited to see. It's a 1950's house, but sitting on OVER AN ACRE! The house probably needs some TLC, but if there aren't any major roof, foundation, or electrical issues, I think we're probably up for the job. The only trick is that it's a short sale owned by JP MORGAN (who apparently now also owns our bank), and our real estate guy says JP Morgan doesn't often agree to pay closing costs. My point of view is that it doesn't hurt to ask. How cool would it be to have over an acre? Sure, the grass is all dingy now, but it could be beautiful someday, and there's lots of room for expansion. Heck we could even split the lot, sell it, and still have a half acre.
Of course, I'm totally getting ahead of myself here. We haven't even seen pictures of the interior, let alone been inside...though hopefully we will be tomorrow :) I'll let you all know how it goes. We're also keeping our eye on several that didn't sell as short sales, and haven't come back onto the market as bank owned yet, but should in the next week-2 months.
In other news, I've got cheesy beer bread in the oven, and I think I'm going to make potato soup to go with it for dinner. Justin and I spent the afternoon watching Baby Mama, which was hilarious. Also, spoke with a radio DJ from up north, and it sounds like Justin's band could be getting some radio play time as early as next Sunday. It would just be for a college radio station, but that's better than nothing!
Friday, September 26, 2008
So blogger Lori over at Nothing Else Matters blogged this morning about a website called Wordle that pulls words from your blog and creates a cluster of them. It's kind of like a mini-blog snapshot, which I love. Above is the one that it pulled from my blog. Pretty cool, though the picture does seem to be a little distorted, which is something I OFTEN have problems with in Blogger. Oh well. Someday maybe I'll be ambitious and re-create one myself (one that actually includes La Buena Vida) to use as a blog banner.
Happy Friday to all!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Went to band practice tonight, and while they were practicing, I logged onto the MLS real estate listings...checking to see if the price for the house-house had dropped. Turns out, it isn't on the online listing anymore. I'm guessing that means the house-house (I keep wanting to call it "our" house, even though I know it isn't and never was) was snatched up by someone else. I have to admit, I'm pretty sad about the whole situation--I definitely spent many nights thinking of potential living room arrangements. But I also spent many nights praying, trying to surrender it all to God, and (trying) to remind myself that this will all happen in God's time, not in mine. However, if I'm honest, what I was REALLY thinking was 'God, please give us this house!'. Likewise, I spent many nights praying that IF ONLY we could qualify for a few thousand more, we'd have a whole lot more houses to choose from. I was praying, 'And while you're at it God, give us a really really nice house!'
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
A friend of a friend recently blogged about this verse, and noted that while most of us are familiar with the concepts of surrendering ourselves to God, and have probably heard the verse that discusses not worrying about clothing or food because God will provide. Instinctively, we know and honor that God will provide, and know that He has it all taken care of. Still, I often find myself wanting to help him out a bit. This person continued by saying, "It was almost as if I wanted His Word to say, 'In all of your ways acknowledge me and I will keep your credit score great!' " Boy, do I relate. Sometimes, I really want God's word to say "In all of your ways, acknowledge me, and I will give you an awesome house!" But it doesn't. Rather, God's word says not to covet the houses of our neighbors, and then gently reminds us that my ways and desires aren't always the ways and desires that He has for me. This is a daily struggle for me as a Christian, but I am really trying to be thankful that we have a roof over our heads at all, and realize that the possibility of us being able to own ANY house, no matter how small, is a blessing.
Who knows...maybe there was just a glitch in the computer system while they were lowering the price of the house? Maybe it was accidentally taken off. Maybe the people interested will back out. Maybe they've already closed, and the house isn't on the market at all. I don't know what the situation is, but I know this is a valuable thing, because it's forced me to look at this house buying process in another way...and one that's Jesus centered instead of Justin-Meredith centered.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In other news, the chair project is on hold. I found fabric that I like, but it's $40 a yard!!! I think maybe I should make sure we'll actually have use for barstools in the next place we live before making that investment. Also, we have new neighbors below us, including a bunch of teenage boys, and they are LOUD. And they play guitar hero into the wee hours of the morning.
The house-house that we're looking at has officially been on the market for 90 days...I was hoping that would mean a drop in price, but I don't see that yet. We have an appointment to talk with our real estate guy again on Saturday. I have a hot-cold vibe with our real estate guy. Some days I think he's awesome, and other days he really irks me.
I've been browsing Rate My Space a lot lately. It's interesting because I feel an inner battle going on. On one hand, I LOVE bold uses of color. On the other hand, I feel like neutrals give the home a more mature vibe. Maybe I just need to go neutrals with pops of color...I don't know. RMS is interesting though because I don't find a lot of "normal" homes that I love.
What I'm really looking for on RMS is ideas of how we could take the pieces that we have (dark brown leather couch, dark brown microsuede chair), add paint and other accessories, and have a FAB room. What I'm also finding is that I'm loving some rooms that aren't really my "style".
Another thing that sometimes bothers me about Rate My Space is that there are NO personal touches to a lot of the rooms. Ditto to re-do shows on HGTV and such...where are the family pictures?! Sometimes, the rooms look so sterile, and that totally turns me off.
I guess the search continues to find an inspiration room with the following qualities:
1. DARK brown furniture
2. Preferably includes pops of blue and green
3. But still manages to make the room feel light and airy, but COMFORTABLE, not stuffy.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Note: this picture was taken several minutes after they were taken out of the oven. These suckers deflate by the freaking SECOND, so make sure you're waiting with family in tow for the INSTANT the oven timer dings. Only then will you see these babies in their true puffed up glory.
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 1/2 C. Milk
1/2 cup butter
Dash of vanilla (ha! stuck my own twist in somehow!)
First off, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, because that sucker takes FOREVAH to heat up that hot. Then, you lightly beat eggs with salt. Then gradually add the milk and then the flour, blending until smooth. Blend in sugar.
Next, add the stick of butter (yes, a whole stick...what was the point of spinning class again?) to the pan and stick it in the oven while it is preheating. Keep an eye on it, because you don't want the butter to burn. Once the butter is melted and the oven is preheated, pour the batter into the pan. Bake about 20 mins, or until the batter rises and puffs--it should be light brown.
Justin likes his oven pancakes with powdered sugar and syrup. I like mine with berry compote, which I just happened to have left over from the failed cobbler. Hurrah.
Can I just say that I am JUST sitting down after getting home from spinning and making dinner, and it's freaking 8:24pm?! No wonder I feel like I'm never home!
Monday, September 22, 2008
EDIT: THE COBBLER DID NOT WORK! And I am ticked! The fridge biscuits got nice and crispy on top, but the underside didn't cook at all! I even split them in half so they wouldn't be so thick. But alas, no freaking luck. Justin and I made an executive decision and tossed the biscuit top and kept the filling for cereal or other breakfast uses.
I don't know what's going on with me lately, but I am seriously craving sweets. I'm trying not to keep many truly unhealthy ones in the house because I'd devour them all--I'm only justifying the cobbler by telling myself that it has fruit in it, and it is thereby healthy.
The good news is that I think I've recovered from these "allergies" enough to make it to spinning class tomorrow. I'll probably go immediately to sleep afterwords, but it's all good. I had every intention of going to the gym today as well, but the lovely hubby surprised me by getting off work early, and I decided that I'd much rather snuggle with him.
No news from our real estate agent yet, which is kind of ticking me off. He never responded to my email full of questions about the house-house. Boo. Hiss.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Other than that, Renee and I hung out while the boys worked, then we all met up and had some pretty fantastic BBQ for dinner. It was a good day spent with some great friends (who also happen to be family!).
Today, I'm about to head to Wal-Mart to find some fabric. I have a plan to re-do some bar stools that we inherited for my parents. I'll be sure to post pictures once they're all done!
Friday, September 19, 2008
I haven't had good experiences with Tussionex before, but I thought I'd try it again. So, I took some Wednesday night. It's supposed to be the most powerful cough syrup there is, and is supposed to knock you out immediately. Yeah, it gives me the jitters. I was up until 4am on Thursday morning (though I did come up with a cool idea about how to re-do our barstools).
So, I called back, explained that the Tussionex does NOT work on me and asked for something else. They gave me the most glorious codeine cough syrup known to man. I have to be VERY careful with that stuff because my doctor growing up used to prescribe it to me waaaayyyyy too often, and it eventually got difficult to sleep without it. But, I haven't used it in a very long time, and I really did need it this time around. And I SLEPT...actually SLEPT without waking up every 20 minutes due to a coughing fit....for the first time in weeks. And it was glorious.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
House One (The house-house): 3 bed, 2 bath. 1220 sq. feet, built in 2002. Two car finished garage. Vinyl Siding, Comp. Roof. In a cul-de-sac. Bank owned (been on the market 80 days), and at least one other home in the cul-de-sac is in the process of being foreclosed. Very open floor plan, tile throughout kitchen, dining, and living room; ugly navy blue carpet in the bedrooms. No appliances included. Big back yard and concrete patio area, but it's all brown and dead. Eggshell white walls throughout. The picture was taken from just left of the doorway. I was probably standing in the middle of the living room. You can also see the bizarre-o built-in arch--no, it doesn't go through, they've just got a mirror hanging there. I have no idea what the purpose of that space is! Here's another picture that shows the backyard. Out of the picture to the left is a big tree and a concrete slab for a patio set and BBQ.
The house-house is the more expensive of the two, by about $5,000. REA doesn't think the bank will be willing to budge much in terms of the price. If we bought house 1 (house-house), immediate to do's would be painting, purchasing appliances, tearing out and replacing the carpet, and replacing all the doorhandles and light fixtures.
House Two (duplex-house): 3 bed, 2 bath. 1240 sq. feet. Brand new construction, technically a zero-lot-line. Wood siding. Located on a dead end street that will probably be punched through in the next 5 years. All other houses in the neighborhood are occupied, and everyone has freaking nice cars. This house has a two car garage that isn't totally finished, and the standard 1 year builder's warranty. House is owned by builder, so there may be some negotiating room there. Pretty open split floor plan, but the kitchen is pretty closed off. On the upside, I LOVE the cherry solid-wood cabinets (see pic from previous post). All appliances but a fridge are included. Justin didn't like that you could see the joints in the drywall. Has a good sized yard (top pic) but, it's all dirt. If we bought this house, we probably wouldn't have to do anything initially. But, I'm also not sure there's much we could do to increase the value of the house. And it is a duplex...we have no idea who we'd be sharing a wall with.
Duplex-house is listed $5000, less than house-house, but REA is going to check into what the other houses in the area have sold for. Because it is builder owned and a lot of builders in the area are being foreclosed on, he might be willing to give a bit more on the price. BUT, it's a freaking duplex and what if we HATE the people we're living next to?!
First though, a couple of pictures of one of the houses we really like. Here's the view from the kitchen to the living room. We love the open floor plan! There are tile floors through the kitchen and living room, and icky dark blue carpet in the bedrooms...but that isn't a huge deal. There aren't any appliances though, which is a bummer.
On the other hand, here's one of the duplexes/zero lot line houses we'll be looking at tonight. It looks pretty spacious, and I've heard it has a huge yard. The cabinets are totally yummy :) I don't LOVE that the kitchen is kind of blocked off, but who knows.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
In all reality, I'm far from being out of food. I'm just out of food that I love (or key ingredients of dishes that I love...I'm out of cheddar cheese, which I love on EVERYTHING). I've got pasta, canned veggies (green beans, black beans, corn, etc), salsa, cereal, bread, peanut butter, eggs, a wheat tortilla or two, raspberry jam, a little bit of milk, some Stagg Chili, a can of chicken noodle soup, maybe even some frozen chicken breasts or ground beef. I've just got to be creative about what I do with the things that I have!
The only thing that's tough is a lack of fruit. I LOVE having fresh fruit, and hate to go even two days without it. But, I think we may have some applesauce, and that just might have to do for now. In all reality, I COULD go buy a few things to tide us over until Friday, but the point is that I don't want to. Many people have a heck of a lot less than we do in their kitchens, and they're feeling blessed for having anything at all. I think the both of us need to learn to appreciate food a little bit more than we do. We need to learn to be thankful for what we have, and to use what we have to the best of our abilities. We need to value the food that we have and not let it go BAD in our fridge without ever opening it (I must confess that's happened to several bags of salad mix since we've been married).
So here's the plan:
Lunch Tomorrow: Black beans, corn, tortilla, salsa
Dinner: Raspberry Balsamic Chicken
Thursday Lunch: Leftover chicken or a can of soup
Thursday Dinner: I'm working a fundraising dinner, will eat there. Justin can have leftovers or cereal.
I think I might stretch out buying groceries as long as possible, even after payday. I might have to break down for fruit, milk, more bread, and cheese, but other than that, I'm gonna try to do with what I have for as long as possible!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Even better, as long as we buy outside the urban growth boundary (which is pretty much where we were looking anyway), we qualify for no down and a kick but interest rate--like 5%!
Things always seem to work like this for Justin and I. We research, research, research, and then all of a sudden--BOOM--we buy one of the first things we look at. That's what happened with our apartment, our couch, AND our car.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I think today may be a rather melancholy day...with the news of Sherita's passing (or "promotion to grace" as they say in New Orleans") coupled with some seriously awful allergies/cold...I'm not feeling up to doing much of anything.
Meeting with the bank is coming up tomorrow--wish us luck on being approved for a home loan!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
So, I'm talking to one of the head honchos for one of the organizations, when suddenly, out of NOWHERE, I fall over. I wasn't walking, I didn't trip, I just FELL for no reason whatsoever. Flat on my butt. I didn't even catch myself, I just fell. And probably flashed the entire recovering community in the county. Awesome.
This is one of those moments where I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.
So, last night we both skipped spinning classes and just hung out for awhile. Made dinner together, and perused real estate listings online. We go in on Monday to meet with a bank and see what we qualify for, and if we qualify for any first-time buyer programs. I am trying not to get my hopes up, because I just don't think we'll qualify for much. Though, I did read a blog by an Oregon realtor that discussed how if you're a first time buyer in the Oregon market, you can get into a new house with about $1000 in savings. She laid out a pretty good plan utilizing all kinds of different programs available. Which would be great...IF we qualify. Then, do we go for a house or a town house?
This situation is giving me a lot of stress! Sometimes I feel like we will NEVER get there!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This picture was snapped on our VERY belated honeymoon to the coast. I still have the sand dollars we're holding. And I'm thinking about framing this picture, the sand dollars, and hand writing the following quote (author unknown) along the mat:
"The tide recedes, but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth
still lingers on the land.
The music stops, yet echoes on
in sweet, soulful refrains.
For every joy that passes,
something beautiful remains."
What do you think?
So back in high school, I was introduced to this great band called Byword. Anyway, they have recently hit it big, and I was checking out their website and blog. One of the band members had posted a study/discussion, and it really resonated with me:
"Through uncomfortable and trying times, the plan of God is perfected. How can I be sure of this? Because my "to do list" is small. I am called to remain in His Word, pray at all times, seek the face of God and share it with others. While I am doing this, I can trust that God is taking care of every important detail. I can rest assured that He knows what he is up to and that if I begin to take control of where I am going, especially if I am driven by fear, I will miss out on a plan that exceeds my wildest of dreams!"
I don't know about you, but I am kind of a control freak. I like to-do lists...but not just your average to-do list, but to-do lists that are pages and pages long! I LIKE to be in control of every little detail. But, when I'm not in control, I experience a great deal of stress and anxiety, which I know means that I'm not giving it all to God like I should be. So, after reading the above snippet, I've been trying to remind myself that the essential core of my to-do list is really very small--and it's all about God, not all about me.
I have been praying a lot lately because I'm feeling at a loss as to where to go from here. Do we re-sign our lease or start looking at houses? Or stay in our apartment and start having kiddos? Or try to balance work AND house AND kiddos? What exactly is God trying to do with our lives right now? I feel this intense sense of stress because I don't know what to do. I don't have a plan, and it drives me batty. I need to keep in mind that my to-do list is small, and that God will take care of the rest...but boy is it hard to surrender that to Him!
I have no idea what this blog has in store...recipes, life musings, photography...who knows!
Here's a picture of us from about a year ago--the day before we got married. We're both much tanner and skinnier there than we are now! Still, I love how excited and happy we both looked, and continue to look at this picture in an attempt to remind me how blessed we are!